How To Get Rid Of Goat Heads In Your Yard

How To Get Rid Of Goat Heads In Your Yard

How To Get Rid Of Goat Heads In Your Yard

Goat heads, also known as puncturevine or Tribulus terrestris, are a common nuisance in yards across the country. These pesky weeds can quickly take over your lawn and garden, causing pain and frustration. Whether you have children or pets that often play in your yard or you simply want to improve the overall health and appearance of your outdoor space, it’s essential to eliminate goat heads. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods and strategies to help you get rid of goat heads in your yard once and for all.


  • Identification
  • Prevention
  • Manual Removal
  • Chemical Treatments
  • Organic Alternatives
  • Frequently Asked Questions


Before diving into the various methods of eliminating goat heads from your yard, it’s crucial to accurately identify these prickly weeds. Goat heads are low-growing annual plants that produce thorny seed pods. The seed pods have sharp spines that resemble goat heads or stickers, hence the name. They usually appear in warm and arid climates, including the southwestern United States.

Goat heads have a vigorous growth habit and can quickly spread through your yard, garden, or even cracks in the pavement. The plant has small yellow flowers, and each flower produces a small fruit that contains two seeds with sharp thorns. These seeds are the primary culprits for causing pain and injury to humans, pets, and tires.


The best way to deal with goat heads is to prevent them from establishing in the first place. Since these weeds thrive in dry and sparse soil, maintaining a healthy and densely planted yard is an effective preventive measure. Here are a few strategies to consider:

1. Proper Lawn Care:

Regular mowing, adequate watering, and correct fertilization can promote a healthy and dense lawn that will help prevent goat heads from taking root.

2. Mulching:

A thick layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, can help suppress goat head growth by blocking sunlight and reducing soil evaporation.

3. Weed Barrier:

Using landscape fabric or weed barrier cloth in flower beds and garden areas can prevent goat heads from germinating and establishing.

4. Diligent Inspections:

Frequently inspect your yard for any signs of goat heads or their seed pods. By identifying and removing them early, you can prevent them from producing and spreading seeds.

Manual Removal

When it comes to removing goat heads manually, there are a few essential tools and techniques to consider:

1. Protective Gear:

Since goat heads have sharp spines, it’s crucial to protect yourself while removing them. Wear thick gloves, long sleeves, and pants to prevent injury.

2. Hand Pulling:

If you only have a few goat heads in your yard, you can manually pull them out by hand. Ensure you remove the entire plant, including the roots, to prevent regrowth.

3. Hoe or Rake:

For larger infestations, a garden hoe or rake can be used to disturb the soil and uproot goat heads. This method is especially effective in loosening the soil before applying herbicides.

4. Bagging and Disposing:

Collect all the removed goat heads in a bag, seal it tightly, and discard them in a trash can. Avoid composting goat heads, as they can still produce seeds even after removal.

Chemical Treatments

If the goat head infestation in your yard is overwhelming or manual removal doesn’t yield desired results, chemical treatments can be a viable option. It’s important to note that using herbicides should be done responsibly and according to the product instructions. Here are a few common herbicides used to eradicate goat heads:

1. Post-Emergent Herbicides:

Post-emergent herbicides are designed to kill weeds that have already sprouted. Look for herbicides containing chemicals like glyphosate, 2,4-D, or dicamba, as they are effective against goat heads.

2. Pre-Emergent Herbicides:

Pre-emergent herbicides create a barrier in the soil to prevent goat head seeds from germinating. Apply these herbicides in early spring or before the rainy season for optimal results.

3. Spot Treatment:

If only certain areas in your yard are infested with goat heads, spot treatment may be the most efficient option. This method involves applying herbicides only to the affected areas, minimizing environmental impact.

4. Professional Help:

If you’re unsure about using herbicides or if the infestation is severe, consider consulting a professional lawn care service. They can provide expert advice and carry out safe and effective treatments.

Organic Alternatives

If you prefer natural or organic methods to control goat heads, there are a few alternatives to consider:

1. Vinegar:

Spraying a solution of white vinegar and water directly on the goat heads can cause them to wither and die. However, be cautious when using vinegar, as it can also harm desirable plants.

2. Boiling Water:

Pouring boiling water over goat heads can scorch and kill them. This method is most effective for spot treatments or small infestations.

3. Corn Gluten Meal:

Applying corn gluten meal to your yard can act as a natural pre-emergent herbicide, preventing goat head seeds from germinating. However, timing is crucial, and it must be applied before goat heads sprout.

4. Hand Digging:

If you have the time and patience, hand digging the goat heads and their roots can be an effective organic solution. It requires persistence and monitoring since missed plants can still produce seeds.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can goat heads be harmful to pets?

A1: Yes, goat heads can be harmful to pets. The sharp thorns can cause discomfort, injury, and may lead to infections. It’s important to remove goat heads from areas where your pets play.

Q2: Can goat heads damage tires?

A2: Absolutely. Goat heads have sharp thorns that can puncture tires. It’s important to eliminate goat heads from driveways, parking areas, and bike paths to prevent tire damage.

Q3: How long does it take to get rid of goat heads using herbicides?

A3: The effectiveness of herbicides varies depending on the product and the specific conditions. It may take several weeks or applications to see significant results. It’s essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Q4: Can goats or other animals help control goat heads?

A4: While goats are known for their appetite for plants, they are not a reliable solution for controlling goat heads. Goats can consume the vegetation, but their digestive systems do not eliminate the seeds, allowing them to spread elsewhere.


Goat heads can quickly turn a lush yard into a painful and frustrating space. However, with the right approach and a little perseverance, you can effectively eliminate these prickly weeds from your yard. By following preventative measures, practicing manual removal techniques, or using herbicides, you can reclaim your outdoor space and enjoy a lawn free from goat heads. Remember to always prioritize safety and consider organic alternatives if you prefer a natural approach. With a bit of effort, you can restore the beauty and comfort of your yard for years to come.

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